Archive for the ‘First Peter’ Category

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1 Peter: Godly Suffering, Part 2

October 18, 2009

Martyrdom.

That sobering subject may have been part of what the Holy Spirit had in mind when Peter wrote to the scattered saints about godly suffering. The book was most likely written between AD 60-64, during the reign of Nero. Peter may well have been writing to prepare the disciples for the persecution that would occur in AD 64 under Nero. In that year, a great fire broke out in Rome, and a substantial portion of the city was burned. Some of the Roman people began to attribute blame to Nero himself. Nero responded by deflecting the blame to the Christians. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote:

…they were covered with the hides of wild beasts, and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and when the day waned, burned to serve for the evening lights.

That such cruelty was done to saints of God seems unimaginable to our modern western minds. Nero’s cruelty was shocking even to many Roman witnesses in that day. But that is what happened within a short time after Peter’s first letter was written. It is hardly surprising that Peter would write to prepare the believers for what was about to come.

With that bit of historical background, let’s consider what Peter said on the topic of suffering in his first letter.

1Pe 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Peter introduced the subject of Christian suffering early in the first chapter. He compared the suffering of Christians to the refining of gold by fire — certainly suggestive of a fiery test of their faith. (He came back to the fiery imagery in 1 Pet 4:12) Peter indicated that there would be “all kinds of trials” which would prove the genuineness of their faith. There would be a reward of praise, glory, and honor for those who passed the test — a reward to be received when Jesus returns.

1Pe 2:18-20 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

Of course not all would personally face martyrdom at the hands of Nero. Some would face suffering of a different kind. Maybe this comes closer to the kind of suffering that modern Christians in western countries might face – unjust treatment because of faith in Jesus. But in reality, very few of us actually face beatings for our faith, as some first century slaves apparently did. Peter instructed them to “bear up under the pain” because they are conscious of God — in other words, to stand resolutely on their faith even when it cost them a beating, in order to receive the commendation of God.

1Pe 2:21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

Christ suffered even to the point of death in order to fulfill God’s purpose. Therefore, Peter taught, Christians should likewise refuse to back down in the face of persecution.

1Pe 3:13-14 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”

Persecution forces Christians to choose whom they will fear. In the above passage, Peter referred to the words of God recorded by Isaiah the prophet:

Isa 8:12 “Do not call conspiracy
everything that these people call conspiracy;
do not fear what they fear,
and do not dread it.
Isa 8:13 The LORD Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,
he is the one you are to fear,
he is the one you are to dread,
Isa 8:14 and he will be a sanctuary;

It seems that Peter, like Isaiah, had in mind a kind of persecution that could cost a person his life. Consider the following familiar passage in the context of that kind of suffering:

1Pe 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
1Pe 3:16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
1Pe 3:17 It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

They were to set apart Christ as Lord. That title was to be reserved for Christ alone, and not to be applied to the emperor. Each Christian was to be resolved in his or her own mind how to answer if faced with the awful choice of martyrdom or denial of Christ. They were to be prepared in advance to answer with gentleness and respect, and to embrace the suffering rather than to commit the great evil of denying Jesus.

1Pe 4:12-13 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. [ESV]

Clearly there was a “fiery trial” that was about to confront them. Peter was concerned that the believers might be frightened into denying the faith during the coming trial.

1Pe 4:15-16 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

He anticipated that they would face punishment for their belief in Jesus. He warned them about being ashamed and admonished them not to shrink back from testifying that they bear the name of Christ. For some of them, such testimony would cost them their lives. Peter remembered the words of Jesus:

Mar 8:38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

He also undoubtedly remembered his own denials of Christ during the Savior’s last few hours on earth. He must have remembered the Lord’s words at that post-resurrection breakfast on the shore, recorded in John 21, asking Peter if he truly loved the Lord. He remembered the kind of death that Jesus had predicted for him. He had spent the subsequent 30 or so years getting ready to face his own personal test. And he charged all his readers with being ready for similar testing.

1Pe 4:17-18 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
And,
“If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

The coming persecution was a judgment on the family of God. It would separate those with genuine faith from those who lacked it. It would be hard for the righteous to be saved. This was no lightweight test. The only way to pass was to be willing to die for the faith.

How would we fare under such a test? Would our faith survive the fiery trial? Do we survive the much lighter trials we actually do face? Sobering questions.

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1 Peter: Godly Suffering, Part 1

October 13, 2009

Before we look at what Peter wrote about suffering, let’s take a quick look at the attitudes of the Israelites toward godly suffering through the previous ages.

Suffering was not a new subject when Peter wrote. Some of the earliest writings in the Old Testament tell us of the suffering of godly men. Two (of many) prominent examples are Joseph and Job.

Joseph suffered as a slave and as a prisoner for a crime he did not commit, for a period of 13 years. (Gen 37-41). Joseph suffered righteously, and God used his suffering to bring about great things for the sons of Israel.

Job suffered as Satan tested his faith in God. Job lost his family, his wealth, and his health. He suffered righteously, and by doing so he brought glory to God. But he suffered a lot.

Despite prominent examples of godly suffering such as these, the Israelites had a hard time accepting the idea that the righteous should suffer. The psalmist (probably David) wrote:

Psa 44:17 All this happened to us,
though we had not forgotten you
or been false to your covenant.
Psa 44:18 Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.
Psa 44:19 But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals
and covered us over with deep darkness.

And in another psalm, Asaph wrote:

Psa 73:12 This is what the wicked are like— always carefree, they increase in wealth.
Psa 73:13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.

To man, it seems that only the wicked should suffer, and that the righteous should be rewarded in this life. To endure suffering in this life, in order to gain rewards in the next, requires great faith. Sometimes we feel it requires more faith than we have.

Early in his ministry, near the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

Mat 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Mat 5:12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus expected us to rejoice when we suffer for him, because of our reward in heaven.

When Jesus sent out the twelve (Matt 10), he told them he was sending them out as sheep among wolves. He told them they would be arrested, called before councils and flogged. He told them they would be hated and they would be betrayed. But he sent them anyway. And he told them that those who stand firm to the end would be saved.

In Matthew 16, we get a glimpse into Peter’s attitude toward suffering:

Mat 16:21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Mat 16:22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Peter did not think it was a good plan for Jesus to suffer. Jesus rebuked him sharply for that.

Later, Peter would try to fight to prevent the arrest of Jesus. After the arrest, he would deny Jesus three times rather than risk suffering alongside Jesus. After the resurrection, Jesus confronted Peter’s unwillingness to suffer:

Joh 21:18 Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
Joh 21:19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Peter was going to have to suffer for Jesus. Having seen Jesus crucified only a few weeks earlier, these words must have cut to his very soul. He would live with these words for over thirty years before they would be fulfilled. Peter, not wanting to face that future suffering, responded:

Joh 21:21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
Joh 21:22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

What a hard teaching for Peter to accept! How many of us would have accepted that we had to suffer so profoundly, yet another disciple would not? Yet that is what Jesus called Peter to accept. Peter was going to have to suffer.

During the book of Acts, we see a transformed Peter. In chapter 4 the Jewish rulers were astonished at his courage. Later, after being released, they joined the other disciples and prayed — not for safety, but for boldness. And in chapter 5, the apostles went right back out into the streets to preach.

In chapter 12, Peter is once again in prison. King Herod had put James the brother of John to death. Seeing that this pleased the Jews, he then arrested Peter. When the angel of the Lord comes to set Peter free, he finds Peter… sleeping like a baby!

What a remarkable transformation had occurred, compared to the Peter we saw in the latter chapters of the gospels! By the time Peter was writing his first letter to the Christians, he had spent thirty years proving his repentance for shrinking back from suffering.

Next time: Peter teaches us about suffering.

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1 Peter: Godly Relationships

October 6, 2009

One of the themes of the book of 1 Peter is that Christians should have godly relationships. The great salvation we have received in Christ demands that we treat other people differently.

1Peter 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

A prerequisite for us to love one another in that way is that we first have purified ourselves by obeying the truth. Having done that, we will be capable of loving deeply, from the heart. Without purifying ourselves, the sin in our lives would block the kind of deep love God wants us to have.

1Peter 2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

The particular sins that Peter lists are all of an interpersonal nature. They are the kind of sins that ruin relationships. Let’s take a look at them one at a time.

First, we are called to rid ourselves of all malice. Malice is that evil intent that desires to harm someone else — the very opposite of love. Christians must not wish for evil to come upon a brother or sister. There can be no seeking revenge in our relationships. Instead we must be quick to forgive, and to forget. God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psa 103:12). We should forgive in the same way.

We should also rid ourselves of all deceit. It is impossible to have a relationship of love when you don’t let the other person know the real “you.” The motive behind deceit may be greed (tricking someone out of their money or possessions), pride (denying our own failures), malice (scheming to bring harm on someone), or many other similar evil motives. Regardless of the motive, deceit prevents real love.

Peter also wrote that we should rid ourselves of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is holding others to a standard that we ourselves do not meet. It is pure selfishness, being concerned about our own comfort and pride but having no compassion for the other person. Hypocrites place heavy burdens on others but do not bear those burdens themselves. Jesus reserved his most stern rebukes for the hypocritical Pharisees (Matt 23).

The next evil Peter listed is envy. Envy is a form of hatred of others, because they possess something that we want but do not possess. It is the form of evil that causes the poor to hate the rich. It causes us to hate those who are more successful than us in any area of life. Quite obviously we cannot love those whom we envy. Instead, we should rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom 12:15).

The final evil in Peter’s list is slander. The Greek word here is καταλαλιας, which literally means speaking against. Slander involves all kinds of evil speaking against one another, and it destroys love. The proverb we learned from our mothers is appropriate here: If you cannot think of something nice to say, don’t say anything. Paul wrote that we should only speak what builds others up (Eph 4:29). James wrote that we must not speak evil against one another (James 4:11). And if it is wrong to speak evil against our brother, it is wrong to listen to one who is doing it. If we would all refuse to listen to that kind of talk, it would put an end to evil speaking in the church.

Peter next reminds us that we are the people of God, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. That is all about our position in Christ and our relationships which result. We should treat one another as royal priests and as holy ones of God. We should be using our voices to praise God, not to criticize our brothers. As James wrote:

Jam 3:10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

Peter then writes about giving proper respect to everyone. That includes respecting authority and obeying the law; loving our brothers; and fearing God. Respect has to come from a humble heart. As the famous poet wrote:

“Every man is in some way my superior.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

An attitude like that fosters respect. We would all be better off if we would respect others in this way.

After giving instructions to wives (submit to your husbands) and husbands (being considerate, showing respect), Peter summarizes:

1Pe 3:8-9 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

There is more in 1 Peter about our relationships: Not retaliating (1 Peter 2:21-25); showing hospitality and serving (1 Peter 4:9-10), the relationship of elders to the church (1 Peter 5:1-4), and submission of the young men (1 Peter 5:5-6). What a great improvement there would be in the church if we all would follow these instructions!

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1 Peter: Holy Living

September 15, 2009

Several themes run through the book of 1 Peter:

  1. The great salvation we are receiving
  2. Our response to salvation:
  • Holy living
  • Godly relationships
  • Suffering as a Christian

In this article we will take a look at the necessity of responding with a holy life.

God has done amazing things on our behalf. Even in our corrupt, fallen state, we instinctively know that we should respond with gratitude for the great grace and mercy of God. The book of 1 Peter instructs us on the kind of grateful response God desires.

1Pe 1:13-16 Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Grace should motivate us to change how we live. We learn God’s ways, and we choose to live by them, to be self-controlled, and to leave our former evil ways behind. God calls us to be holy, because he himself is holy.

What does it mean to be holy?

  • When Moses stood on holy ground, he was commanded to remove his sandals. Holiness demands to be honored. (Ex 3:5)
  • Mount Sinai was holy. (Ex 19:23) Moses had to put a boundary around it to keep the people off the mountain, so that they would not be put to death. (Ex 19:12-13)
  • In the tabernacle was the Holy Place. When performing his service there, Aaron had to wear a certain robe with bells so that he would not be put to death. (Ex 28:34-35)
  • Beyond the Holy Place was the Most Holy Place. Only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place, and he could only enter once a year. He could not enter without blood, because blood was essential to make atonement for his sins and for the sins of the people.

When something is holy, it must be kept from all uncleanness. It must be reserved (sanctified) for holy uses. That which is holy must be treated with reverence. There are severe consequences for profaning what is holy.

Now stop and think about this: We are called to be holy.

1Pe 1:17-19 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

In order to be holy, we must live as strangers in this unholy world. We just cannot fit in. After all, we were redeemed through the most precious, sacred, and holy of sacrifices. We dare not treat those sacrifices as unholy:

Heb 10:28-31 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

So it is unthinkable that we would not respond to the incomparable gift we have received, by being holy ourselves.

Therefore, we must get rid of the unholy ways of our flesh:

1Pe 2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

We are to rid ourselves of these things. Nobody will do this for us — although the Holy Spirit will certainly help, when we make the effort.

1Pe 3:10-12 For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Yes, Christians are forgiven. Yes, that includes sin that we commit as Christians. But it absolutely does matter how we live.

Heb 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

We have heard the term “holy” so often, and have seen actual holiness so seldom, that we really don’t even understand how far we fall short of that standard. I think we tend to cut ourselves way too much slack in this area. Holy living is not just a good idea.

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1 Peter: Inexpressible and Glorious Joy

September 5, 2009

1Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

What a difference it would make if Christians really understood what they have been given through the grace of our merciful God! We don’t deserve the salvation we have been given. We would have no grounds for complaint against God if instead he decided to punish us according to our deeds. Yet God granted us an immeasurably great favor.

1) He has given us a new birth, a fresh start with a clean slate, forgiven of all of our sins, through the resurrection of Jesus. (1 Peter 1:3)

2) He has given us an unimaginably wonderful inheritance, safely reserved for us in heaven. (1 Peter 1:4)

3) He protects us as we wait to receive the inheritance. (1 Peter 1:5)

However that does not mean we are without challenges. We face trials which test the genuineness of our faith. But if we have genuine faith, there is nothing to fear. Genuine faith will stand up under fire. Even as gold is proven pure by fire, so our faith will be proven genuine by our trials. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

As a result, we love God and are filled with “an inexpressible and glorious joy” (“joy unspeakable and full of glory” as the KJV phrases it.) Or, at least, we could be so filled, if only we fully recognised what we have been given.

Too many Christians wonder whether they actually do possess these blessings. We may doubt our salvation because we see our own sinfulness too clearly. When we aren’t sure we’ve received the blessings, we don’t experience the joy. Many things can block that joy, such as: loving this present world; failure to repent and to make Jesus Lord; loving the things of the world; becoming entangled in worldly pursuits; false doctrines about works salvation; false doctrines about the nature of God; a lack of faith.

But it is clear that God intends for Christians to be filled with joy. God wants us to receive the inheritance, and he knows what we are made of. So he has promised to protect us as we wait for our inheritance (1 Peter 1:5.) We are responsible to remain in the vine (John 15). When we do so, God will produce fruit in us, to make us into what we need to become. So we can have great security in our salvation. And with that security, we can experience the inexpressible and glorious joy of our salvation.

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1 Peter: Paul, Silas, and Peter

August 25, 2009

1 Peter 5:12 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it

Peter did not write this letter alone.

Many have remarked at the striking similarity between 1 Peter and some of Paul’s letters. A quick comparison of certain verses demonstrates that similarity:

Eph 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ 1Pe 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Col 3:8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 1Pe 2:1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 1Pe 3:1 Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands
1Th 5:6 …let us be alert and self-controlled. 1Pe 5:8 Be self-controlled and alert.
1Co 16:20 …Greet one another with a holy kiss. 1Pe 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love.
Rom 8:18 … the glory that will be revealed in us. 1Pe 5:1 … the glory to be revealed:
Rom 4:24 …for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 1Pe 1:21 … you believe in God, who raised him from the dead …
Rom 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities… Pe 2:13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men
Rom 12:6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.
Rom 12:7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach;
1Pe 4:10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
1Pe 4:11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides
1Ti 2:9 I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 1Pe 3:3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.

Beyond the similarity of many verses of Paul and Peter, the overall structure of his plea is the same. Peter introduced the letter by identifying himself as an apostle. He proceeded to identify his intended audience by their location and by the blessings they have received from God. He extends grace and peace. Next he describes in more detail the great blessings they have received from God. Then he proceeds to call for an appropriate response to those blessings. This is all very “Pauline” — compare to Ephesians, Colossians, and Romans. However, Peter seems to go back and forth several times — lavish description of blessings, then calling for a response, then revisiting the blessings, and calling for a response again, etc.

Overall, the similarity to Paul’s letters is unmistakable. And there is a good reason for that similarity. 1 Pet 5:12 tells us that Peter wrote this letter with the help of Silas (Gk Silvanus). There is virtually unanimous agreement that this is the same Silas who accompanied Paul on his second missionary journey (approximately AD 51-54.) Silas was a leading brother in Jerusalem (Acts 15:22) and a prophet (Acts 15:32). He joined Paul first in Jerusalem as one selected to deliver the decision of the council to Antioch and other churches. After visiting Antioch with the letter, he accompanied Paul to Syria, Cilisia, Derbe, Lystra, Phrygia, Galatia, Troas, Macedonia, Philippi (where he was jailed along with Paul), Thessalonica, Berea, and Corinth. While on that journey, he assisted Paul in writing both letters to the Thessalonians. Silas had extensive exposure to Paul’s teaching as well as his writing. He was undoubtedly familiar with at least most of Paul’s letters by the time 1 Peter was written (approximately AD 60-64). It is no surprise, therefore, that we see many similarities between 1 Peter and the letters of Paul.

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1 Peter: Authorship, Audience, and Purpose

August 18, 2009

That the apostle Simon Peter is the author of the letter we call 1 Peter has been overwhelmingly supported from the earliest times. Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, Cyprian, and Tertullian all not only quoted from the book, but also explicitly attributed it to Peter.

The author of the book we call 2 Peter, on the other hand, has been questioned by some, almost exclusively because of the differences in the style of Greek between 1 Peter and 2 Peter. 1 Peter is written in a polished, well structured, almost formal style. 2 Peter, on the other hand, is rougher and more unsophisticated. This naturally raises the question as to whether the two books were written by the same author.

However, this objections can be easily overcome.

1Pe 5:12 With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.

Silas (Gk Silvanus) has always been widely accepted to be the same person as the Silas who traveled with Paul and who assisted him in writing 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Silas was not merely an amanuensis but also a prophet (Acts 15:32). If he truly did participate in the composition of 1 Peter as well as the two Thessalonian letters of Paul, is no surprise that the organization and style of 1 Peter resembles Paul’s letters. I will say a bit more about this similarity later.

2 Peter, on the other hand, mentions no amanuensis. It therefore is not surprising that an unschooled, ordinary man such as Peter (Acts 4:13) would write in that style.

It should also be noted that a portion of 2 Peter 3:8 is clearly quoted (but not attributed) by Irenaeus in Against Heresies, book V: “a day of the Lord is as a thousand years.” Irenaeus used the same phrasing as in Peter’s letter, and not the phrasing from the similar OT passage. He quoted this passage in proof of his argument, implying that he assumed his readers would know and accept the validity of the reference. So it is evident from this reference that 2 Peter was well known and accepted before the end of the 2nd century. (Justin Martyr makes a similar reference in his Dialogue with Trypho. There are other alleged references to 2 Peter by Polycarp, Clement, Ignatius, and others, though some of these are less certain.)

Internal evidence for Peter’s authorship of 2 Peter is strong. First of all, the author claims to be “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 1:1). He claims to have been an eyewitness, present on the Mount of Transfiguration (2 Pet 1:16-18) He claims to have written a previous letter (2 Pet 3:1). Even the fact that this author refers to the flood of Noah (2 Pet 3:6) as a “type” or parallel of future events, just as Peter did in 1 Pet 3:20, weighs in favor of the same author writing both books.

It is impossible to determine the precise place and time when 1 Peter was written. 1 Pet 5:13 refers to the church in Babylon sending greetings, but there are multiple theories about what “Babylon” refers to, and no real evidence to use in choosing which theory is best. Of course 1 Peter was written before Peter was martyred (traditionally believed to be around AD 64), and obviously before he wrote his second letter. Most scholars seem to place the time in the late 50’s or early 60’s of the first century. It was written to Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor. While it is apparent that there were elders in at least some of these churches (1 Pet 5:1-4), he addresses all members of the churches in a general sense, rather than directly addressing the letter to their leaders.

Peter wrote this letter for the purpose of “encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.” (2 Pet 5:12) We should study the letter and teach it with that same purpose.